A Day in the Life of: Lewis Parsons, Filmmaker

April 17, 2019

Hey Lewis, could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you do?

Hey. For sure – I’m Lewis, a Devon-born filmmaker/video creator now based in London, but work all over the world.

What does an average day look like for you?

I honestly don’t really have an average day, every day is different. I mean, 2 days ago I was shooting a sunset surf on a secluded beach in Sri Lanka with a fresh coconut in one hand and today, today I’m 8 hours into an edit session in my tiny flat in north London having just spilt coffee everywhere.

I do my best to keep a small morning routine that I can do from anywhere, which tends to keep me grounded wherever I am. I always try to get up at the same time each day, meditate for 10 minutes first thing, and listen to a short podcast with a coffee, undisturbed. Without those daily rituals, all the erratic travel can get a bit much.

What objects, food, books or materials can we find on your ‘desk’?

I do have a desk, but I’m rarely at it. I tend to edit a lot on the fly – all I usually have is my MacBook, a hard drive and pair of headphones. I also have a diary for calendar and notes (that’s right, I’m old school).

How did you come to work with Real Handful?

Joe got in touch with me roughly a year ago via email as he’d seen my work with other brands in the food & bev space. Just having looked back at the email, I think what drew me to working with Real Handful was the statement ‘we’re going big or going home this year’ – something I can definitely identify with.

What are the challenges and rewards of being a freelancer?

How long have you got? There are loads! I’ll try to keep it brief…

So I guess the biggest challenge for me is loneliness. There’s something inherently isolating about working for yourself, whether you share a co-working space or work from home, at the end of the day, the buck always stops with you. The same can be said for entrepreneurs and CEO’s. It’s also something that seems to be a topic of conversation right now, which is really positive. Ultimately, for me, it’s about limiting this isolation, which means working with other freelancers, collaborating with other creatives whenever possible and just generally sharing ideas and open conversation with people in the same position as you.

The biggest reward of being a freelancer for me is the freedom. I’ve only ever had 1 job working in an office and it was the worst 18 months of my life. Once I realised that I was unhappy because of the environment I had created for myself, it was easy to see how to change that, I had to work for myself. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not for everyone, we’re all different, but for me, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Travel has also always been really important to me, and the fact that I can do the bulk of my job from anywhere in the world has allowed me to experience more than I could have ever imagined.

What keeps you inspired and creative? Feel free to share any strange working rituals too.

Creative block is real. I certainly struggle with this from time to time. The way I keep inspired is to recognise when I’m not feeling it and step away from what I’m doing. Whether that be taking an hour to get out for a walk or a run, or taking the whole day off to do whatever I like. I think it’s also important to be consistent in creating things though, so not taking too much time out. I also tend to seek inspiration from things that are outside of my discipline – so I’ll take time to look at graphic design, architecture, music, all sorts. I also have this weird thing, I guess you could call it a ritual, where I’ll go into a store like whole foods and just check out the packaging design (usually the drinks section), I could spend ages in there.

Lewis in action

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I have 2 younger brothers and a younger sister so this is really prevalent for me at the moment. There are 2 main things I always end up coming back to.

The first is time – it’s important to be patient. I spent a lot of time sitting with this anxiety of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life when I was younger, which always left me frustrated – knowing that I wanted to work hard and achieve great things, but I didn’t know what or how. It wasn’t until later on, when I hit 27 that I found my love of creative storytelling. Then looking back on everything else I had done to get to this point, the experience I had gained was invaluable, that anxiety had led me to try all kinds of things and move on if I didn’t like it. Everything I had done up until that point had only benefitted me personally and professionally and led me where I needed to be. There’s no need to be anxious or frustrated – embrace the unknown.

The second piece of advice is along the same lines in a roundabout way. Don’t be a d*ck. Every job I’ve ever been offered, every gig I’ve ever landed, every pivotal moment that has led me to this point in my life has stemmed from a random conversation somewhere along the line. We meet people all the time, from all walks of life, and we never really know what might come of it. It doesn’t matter how good you are at your job, if you’re not a nice person to be around, you won’t get very far, and I’d say you’re kind of missing the point. Life is finite, relationships are important, choose to have fun.

Describe the best meal you’ve ever eaten – what and where.

I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the place, but it was a small ramen bar in Shinjuku, Tokyo. We were there last year on a shoot, and have to say, I didn’t have a bad meal anywhere. The place in particular was incredible. It’s the kind of place that I had pictured in my head before we arrived in Japan – small wooden tables, a horse-shoe shaped bar with Japanese businessmen sat slurping ramen, smoking and drinking beer with their colleagues, that salty miso smell and loud noises coming from the kitchen. It was an attack on the senses, in a good way.

I had a bowl of simple miso ramen, and split some gyoza’s with the guys. Hands down, the most tasty broth I’ve ever had, the amount of flavour they managed to pack into it was ridiculous. Would recommend, if I could remember the name of the place.

Any book, film, TV, podcast, restaurant or snack recommendations for the readers?

Really depends what you’re into, but here’s what I’m in to right now at the time of writing this…

Book – I have a lot of books on the go at the moment, but something I finished recently was ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight – his memoirs on creating Nike.

Film – ‘Green Book’ – I just watched this on the plane back from Sri Lanka and is my current favourite film. Also, if you’re into snowboarding – ‘Closer’ by Iisakki Kennilä is a favourite of mine right now, you can catch it on Vimeo

TV – I don’t watch a huge amount of TV, but Abstract docu series on Netflix or Chef’s Table are probably my favourite shows

Podcast – More of a particular episode – the show is called ‘Radio Lab’ and the episode is from 16th January titled ‘The Punchline’ – it’s a story about John Scott, a former pro ice hockey player. Told really well, bit of a heartwarming story.

Restaurant – A friend of mine runs the kitchen at St John at Hackney Brewery (biased, I know, but he’s a wizard) close to Hackney Central overground, its called ‘Lagom’ – he cooks everything over fire and is well worth a visit!

Snack – wasabi broad beans from your local asian supermarket, that’s my jam.

The snack that you would take to a dessert island with you?

I don’t know if this counts, but probably miso soup…I love the stuff. Some real handful espresso-so to wash it down to though right.

Thanks Lewis, it was a pleasure to speak to you. If you’d like to be featured on our ‘Day in the Life of’ series, then drop an email to lizzie@realhandful.com.